Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Halloween!!

Okay, must admit here, I have never really been into Halloween. I do not enjoy scary movies and I don't appreciate gore. Having said that, I think it's darling when kids choose something they want to be in real life, for their Halloween costume. Benny wants to be a fireman, of course. Who wouldn't? Everything firetruck here, especially when we're in need of a bribery, ehem, "encouragement" tool. Benny didn't want to come out of the McDonald's play area, so "Benny, should we go find a firetruck?" It was time for potty-training, so "Benny, you get to wear the fireman's hat and blow the horn when you go potty!" And when it's time for bed? You got it, firetruck jammies. Can't complain at all though, who doesn't want their son to aim for hero status? Here's to the day we get to dream big. Happy Halloween, all!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Wilds of Connecticut

"Welcome to the wilds of Connecticut!" one person told me. This is our neighbor, Baloo, he is one of the bears that live in our area. I suppose you know you're living rural when you see more wildlife than humans. At first Baloo was exciting and we took pictures and admired him from afar. He is big, seems majestic, and unusual. Then he became a nuisance. He tore the lock and trim off the shed door and took our trash. He poops on our lawn. He leaves just enough fear in our hearts to not let Benny fully enjoy the large yard we have. Baloo is not welcome here, and I can think of a great place for a bearskin rug... or two or three.

Having said that, we do appreciate the beauty of this place. We truly live in the middle of the woods where the stars are breathtaking, the wildlife is amazing, the nature is calming, and the privacy is comforting. Home feels like Heaven here. It's not fancy, it's just a haven from the world. It was our only option, if we were going to live in Canton, and I feel blessed to know that it was saved for us. The fireplace is set to go, for that first cozy night of hot chocolate and cider. I feel it in my bones, it's not too far away!

The mountains aren't nearly as rugged and steep as they are in the Rockies, but the woods are. We're not high in altitude but we're high in seasons. The rivers are wider and calmer and the lakes are pristine. The trails beckon, the attractions call, the adventure awaits. We have only just begun. NYC is incredible, Boston is exciting, Rhode Island is dreamy. The ocean seems easy-going, but the weather is definitely opinionated. History surrounds us while the future lies at our toes. Ready, set, go, we're stepping ahead.

The "wilds of Connecticut" are just that - wild. As my mom keeps saying, it's like another country here, but somehow we find our sense of home sweet home the minute we pull up our (roughly) 1/3 mile gravel driveway and walk through the doors which are open to all.

Monday, October 3, 2011

We've Moved!

From the rugged Rocky Mountains to the peaceful towns of New England. Our family made a change that has shocked us more than we ever dreamed. In a good way. Moves in the past have been simple, dare I say "easy"compared this 2500 mile adventure, but the adventure continues day by day and we are blessed to be a part of the Canton community in Connecticut. In the 3 months that we've been here we have done well in transition and adjustment to new surroundings, culture, and accents, and... roads.

The house is on 14 acres, but only a couple are cleared (but mowing a couple acres is all we need!). We are in the middle of the woods, complete with multiple bear, dear, turkey, woodchucks, bobcats, coyotes, and any other New England wild animal you can think of. It took a while to adjust to that, but we have now named our visitors, and enjoy taking pictures of them. The ward is enormous, geographically, and small in numbers. Visiting teaching is a whole new kind of assignment out here - I drive about an hour each way, for one visit--but the rewards seem that much greater!

As for each of us in the adjustment:

Dave stepped right into his career in the insurance industry, a huge change from academia to say the least, and appears to be successful and content in his assignments and experiences there. It's a new rhythm and routine, new colleagues, and new opportunities. Future's looking bright for him, and the kids and I are proud of his progress.

I've jumped into my new territory with PARAGON, so far so good. Lots of potentials out there, and it's still early in the game. With several seminars and conventions coming up, I'm hopeful for a fantastic first year here. Otherwise, it's all about settling into the new home with the family, establishing a good routine for the kids, and finding a little time to set personal goals as well.

Dania is off to BYU but has already been back for a visit here. We saw a Broadway show in NYC, went to Rhode Island, Cape Cod, and Boston for flights. She has her new room all set up, and knows it awaits her. We are forever looking forward to the next visit, but are thrilled to Skype with her weekly. She is doing better than ever, off on her own, we couldn't me more pleased with her college experience so far.

Tori is incredible. I don't know of another 16-year old that could move across the country with as much grace and positive attitude as she has. She's jumped right into yet another school curriculum (3rd in 3 years), cross country team, and the youth at church. She is working hard toward college right now, it's a big year for her where that goes, and we are very proud of her hard work and amazing efforts. ACT this month, cross country season now, stake youth committee all year, and oh yeah... great grades. I don't know how she does it all.

Benny is a big boy and now goes to preschool. He just turned 3, is potty trained, sleeps in a big bed, and as usual, keeps us hopping. He has adjusted very very well, thankfully, and appears to be thriving in this new community. His favorite thing to do here is to jump on the tramp while Dave mows the lawn for hours on end.

All in all, all is well. Enough about the change, and on to real life at home here in Connecticut!


"And then what?" someone once taught me to ask, when facing life's pivotal points. 4 months ago Dania graduated high school. I held it together during the ceremony, much to my surprise. Until their entire class stood up and did a flash-mob dance for the whole audience. What a fun way to give back to the people who had been supporting them for the last 18 or so years. While I watched them move in unison, I looked for familiar faces. Kids who had been in our home countless times, kids I had photographed at races or concerts or awards ceremonies. I saw them all. Smiling, celebrating, moving on. I found Dania again. It hit me. This was the end of the life I had worked so hard to keep together, and I would somehow have to find it in my heart to let her go and support her in her efforts to stretch her wings and fly solo. And then what?

Now she attends BYU and I stalk her on facebook daily. We Skype. We text. We call. I see her growing into the independent person she thought she was since kindergarten, bless her heart, and sure enough she is incredible. She's taking hard classes and acing tests and making friends and setting her bar high. She's preparing for the future and making herself known. And then what? Where will this path lead her? Where will this path lead our family?

There is a void in our home, that is only partially filled during our Sunday afternoon Skype sessions. We miss her deeply. Even with another teenager and toddler in the home, it is significantly quieter around here. But in that calm, it seems right, gosh darn it, and I can't deny it. It's right to be proud of her decisions and it's right to celebrate with her the fantastic consequences of good hard effort and it's right to go to her room and sniff her pillows every now-and-again just to feel her close. It's right that she's gone and it's right that she will come back. It makes me think of the eternal plan for us and how Heavenly Father must feel while we're away. I'm sure with my family here on Earth, Heaven is significantly less chaotic and more orderly. I doubt my heavenly parents sniff my celestial pillow but I know they watch me closely, and as I send an occasional something to Dania while she's away, I know they send things into my life to make it more interesting and bearable.

So here's to looking back and taking comfort. Here's to enjoying the moment. And here's to looking ahead and wondering where our path will take us next. A very belated hats (with four corners) off to you, Dania, for choosing your path well. You're an inspiration to watch. We are proud to be your parents and family. We miss you. We look forward to November 23rd for a quick Thanksgiving visit, and even more to Christmas break. Keep looking ahead, setting your bar, and taking those steps.

Big Boy Ben (and the golden Birthday)

4 years ago we gave up. Literally. I got a job, sold the Suburban, bought a Jetta, lost my weight, and moved on. 3 years ago, we couldn't believe our eyes. Red and wrinkly, soft and warm, and straight from Heaven. 2 years ago he walked and talked and filled our home and days and lives with immeasurable joy. 1 year ago we couldn't keep up with him - a tornado of energy, happiness, innocence. Today, our big boy Ben turns 3. More than ever we celebrate his presence in our family and the glorious chaos and noise and mess that he makes. We celebrate the miracle of life and answers to prayer and yes, even God's plan and timing in all things. More than ever, we celebrate Ben--his personality, his smile, his wit, his sweetness, his comedy, his strength, his voice, his laughter. Happy birthday to Ben, our constant reminder that "Sunday will come."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Just Askin'...

As is often noted by many people, running parallels life in countless ways. One of my main struggles with my running is that it takes me a good 3 miles to warm up and get into the rhythm of the run. Sometimes this is 75% of the day's run... then it's over!

This weekend I attended my daughter's seminary graduation--could not believe it. It seems like we just got into the rhythm of our relationship--we understand each other--we LIKE each other--we do things and respect things and dream things together. And now she's going off to BYU to pursue her own goals and dreams and life. We were just getting warmed up.

So my question is... how do we warm up faster at the start of the run or the relationship or the life, in order to minimize the shuffle-stepping and maximize the long strides and thrilling distance? Not complaining here, it's exciting to see the new phases of life coming; but is there a secret out there, that makes the most of the whole experience? How can we warm up before hand and hit the ground running? Just askin'... and seriously hoping for answers.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Living In the Moment

Mother's Day. Of course today I thought of my mother and the relationship I am blessed to have with her. She is my inspiration and my friend. She taught me to want to be a mother by example, and by this same example, she has taught me to enjoy motherhood, to love, to serve, to be lost in the lives of my children. I love my mom and am so proud to be her daughter.

I was reminded today as I became absorbed in the image of my own kids playing in the family room, the beauty and benefits of living "in the moment." To learn from, but let go of the past and to allow my experiences as they are, be beautiful and new. Benny enjoys almost everything. He sees his toys, his family, his friends untainted by hurt feelings or past grudges or wishes for what things might be in the future--better, shinier, nicer. He connects with them now.

Sometimes when he is upset, Tori looks into his eyes and sings about speckled frogs and mama ducks without a hint of boredom or monotony. Those frogs and ducks almost seem to appear on her arm as one by one they "go off to play." Benny is with her all the way and enveloped by the calming influence of the rhythm of the song and play interaction with his big sister. He follows her lead with the hand movements and forgets his concerns.

Dania sits down on the patio in back and brings out the colored sidewalk chalk and draws with him. He copies her as best as he can. She takes a pink, he takes a pink, she takes a green, he takes a green. They don't talk about what will happen if the chalk gets all used up or if there are better colors out there, or the time it the chalk got rained on and there was nothing left to color with... They just color and create.

It's so easy to get wrapped up in the future, or past for that matter, and forget about the now. Are things wonderful this week? Today? This hour? This moment? Yes they are. I have people to serve and family to love and a home to keep. And right now, I'm glad for motherhood in general. For the chance to learn from my own kids as well as my mentor mother. Right now I will make and keep memories that I will recall at the right time, down the road. Right now I will go with life and see the beauty all around.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sometimes You're the Statistician

This is Dave (and Benny). To me, Dave is Mr. Wonderful. Dependable, loyal, true, loving, generous, forgiving, and ever-so-patient. He is a statistician, which means, he is a "numbers guy." By day he teaches graduate level statistics and drives students crazy. But on the weekends, he teaches the 15 year old kids in sunday school at church. Actually, he shares this job with another man who is, in fact, a magician by trade. Literally.

The two co-teachers usually alternate weeks conducting class. In case you didn't know, kids this age are particularly difficult to reign in when it is time to focus on a lesson at church. Dave's teaching partner has a few "tricks up his sleeve" and can usually catch their attention with some sort of optical illusion. Kind of a tough act to follow, I'd say. While Dave may have been tempted from time to time to woo the teenage crowd with calculus or the statistical significances of this or that, he has held his tongue... And steady but sure, he simply plugs along with the lesson of the week.

Sometimes we may see eye-catching beauty or talent of people that cross our paths in our daily life and wonder if our simple plugging along is getting the job done well enough. We may not shine or have anything to show but heartfelt effort and a steady pace. Sometimes fashion takes a back seat and reality is front and center.

Yesterday I took Dania to Nordstrom to get a pair of shoes for Senior Ball. I knew I wasn't exactly put together, but it didn't dawn on me, how much of a mess I was, until the salesman commented on my old running shirt. The knees in my jeans were also stained and dirty from cleaning and my hair was falling out of my ponytail. Initially I was embarrassed but it didn't last long. I remembered Marjorie Pay Hinkley's quote below, and I was okay. May we all show up to our most important event eye-catchingly dirty.

"I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden. I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived."
Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

A new friend joined our family pictures with Lindsey Orton!

Our New Adventure!!

From what I gathered on TV, the northeast region of the United States was filled with fast-moving, quick-speaking, cold, abrasive people. Then we took a trip to Connecticut. As it turns out, the area is not all about NYC and crime and public transportation! In fact, this area has to be the most picturesque, peaceful, quiet, serene area I've ever come to know. I didn't want to leave. I loved the people. And now, after 7 months of serious research, travel, waiting, networking, imagining, interviewing, negotiating, and praying... it appears as though our family will soon be making a move from Provo, Utah to Canton, Connecticut. Dave has been teaching at BYU for 15 years and as much as we adore this little bubble from the world, he is excited to have been offered what seems to be, the moon. We're still working out details but I'll put it this way, I'm planning the biggest yard sale I've ever hosted.

2000 miles seems to be world away, but we are all excited for the opportunity to experience something new and different and beautiful. We've been to the area, the church, the schools, the stores, the community. We've run on their trails and eaten in their restaurants. We've made good friends and spent time in their homes. We've shopped in their shops and driven their byways. Hey, Tori even enjoyed a 3 day trip with the youth there. How could I have ever have been so intimidated by the idea? The people in CT have been incredibly welcoming and warm. Such as I have never seen before. We've been facebooked, emailed, texted, and phoned by them... and it wasn't even official until just this week.

Family is in the west. All of them. We will truly miss being able to just hop in the car for a day's drive and attend a big event or visit on a whim. This has been our greatest pull away from the decision. But it will be a day's flight, however, just like it is a day's drive is now. And there are blogs and facebook and picture texts and cell phones and skype. And there is still the amazing love which always has and always will, bind us to our eternal family.

I'm so happy for Dave, who has worked hard in his career to get to this point, excited for Dania, as she'll be coming "home" to the east coast like she has always dreamed of, thrilled for Tori to have an adventurous last two years in high school, and glad for Benny to start his life as big-boy where they really value education (yes... he would start part-time this fall, in a pre-K program!). And me? I look forward to radiant autumns, endless exploring, and getting involved in the community wherever possible. Canton, Connecticut, here we come!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Get Lost (in the run)

How do we sometimes get tricked into focussing on the less important things in life?! Take running, for example. I usually prefer to run outside, alone with my thoughts (and sometimes prayers). I'm not a gifted runner, but it feels like running to me and I love what comes of it. But somehow, I get distracted by the loooooong term goal of someday qualifying for the Boston Marathon--as do thousands of other runners. When this happens, the focus is then on the timer of the Garmin and less on the beauty of the route. Our hearts pound faster and our breath is gasping, but we don't hear the splash of the puddle or the crunch of the leaves beneath our feet. We come home having run the same distance, but the run itself may seem somewhat less fulfilling. Getting lost in the run allows our minds to wander to far off places and become inspired and return safely to it's normal existence. For me, this is the reward for the effort.

Since life really is like a run, here's another thought. Are there days when we are so focussed on completing more things in a less amount of time, that we lose sight of the beauty of the day itself? Do we forget the life experience as our focus shifts to the checkmarks on the list of things to do? Yesterday Dave and Benny sat under a big umbrella on the LoveSac and watched Kipper the Dog. Certainly, Dave had other things to do. Positively, Benny didn't need another TV show before he got going for the day. But together they enjoyed time bundled up together at Benny's lead, and I got a fun picture out of it. Dave got his reports finished, and Benny eventually got dressed and had breakfast.

When I look back on my life, I want to see a steady pace of fulfilling and thrilling events. I want to FEEL every turn in the route, every tiny moment, every big adventure. None of us will likely remember how many times we cleaned the toilets or emptied the dishwasher. But we might remember a late night walk or a hike with our daughter, or finger-painting with a toddler, or a long aimless drive with our love, or a secret service done for someone in need. We need not be fast paced to know our life's run, but each step by beautiful step, will qualify us for bigger things. So... I'll run in the morning at sunrise and feel the beauty of hope. I'll run at sunset and know the calm of the hour. And some day, after miles and miles of experiences, I'll find the power of the sun in my steps and I'll "qualify."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My Message Through Bubbles and Fingerprints

My favorite time of year comes twice a year... lucky me! Sitting as a family in a semi-cluttered house filled with the aroma of cookies and waffles while watching the LDS General Conference is probably the most rewarding, calming, fulfilling, rejuvenating, and grounding experience I have the honor of knowing. I can honestly say, even if I weren't a member of this church, I believe I would truly benefit by doing the very same thing. The messages are for everyone, after all, and who couldn't benefit from a little guidance, direction, and anchoring during turbulent times such as these?

This year, particularly, was something I'll never forget. On Saturday, we could barely see the screen through all the bubbles it took to keep 2 year-old Benny quiet enough to hear the words, and when the sun hit the TV just right, the ONLY thing we could see were the hundreds of fingerprints smeared in just the right/wrong spots. Regardless, the spirit was strong as Dania and Tori had their journals open to take notes of the treasures making their way through the mess and into our hearts. That priceless image reminded me that busy-ness in our lives can cloud our ultimate goals like bubbles and fingerprints clouded our view of the speakers... BUT, there is always a way to find what we're looking for. The blessings for good efforts and real intents will always come!

I walked away this time wanting to do better, serve better, give better. I felt myself disappearing, sort of, and caring less about my concerns, my struggles, my worries, my goals, myself. Conference is good for that. The simple reminder that there are bigger and better things than the hand-wringing and nail-biting that often goes on (at least in my life), is just what I needed at that moment. We don't need to sweat the small stuff, do we!? There are hearts to touch, loads to lift, smiles to find. There are tears to wipe and time to share and miracles to witness. There is love to give.

Elder Holland said that somewhere among all of the talks given this conference, there would be something, even if it's just one thing, meant just for each of us. This was meant for me.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Rhythm of the Run

131 Days until the Utah Valley Marathon. I'm starting to focus more seriously, especially after today's long run with the both of the girls. Well relatively speaking, it wasn't really that long, only 9 miles. This is going to be an interesting ride, to say the least. While watching the girls run youthfully and effortlessly along side me, I heard (loud and clear) my aches and pains scream "YOU'RE TOO OLD FOR THIS!" But then I remembered my own mom who was, at that very moment, completing a half marathon in Arizona at 70 years old. I'm not too old for this.

I remembered why I started running about ten and a half years ago. I remembered how putting one foot in front of the other brought me further away from stresses and closer to clarity of mind, a peaceful soul, and eventually a rested heart. I remembered that the gift to me was not that I was talented or fast, but rather that I could run with purpose. I thought of the first time I ran with the sun rising around every corner, the first time I prayed on a run, the first time I knew I wasn't alone. I recalled my first 18, 19, and 20 milers... and coming home on hot Virginia summer mornings, collapsing on the lawn, and letting the girls (then 5 and 7) spray me down with the garden hose.

10 years, 5000 more feet in altitude, and 60 fewer degrees later, I'm still running. I still love to pray when I run, I still love the promise a quiet sunrise brings, and I still put one foot in front of the other finding peace in the rhythm of the run. Why the marathon event, if the joy comes from the training runs? For me the marathon event allows me to celebrate the blessing of the run with others. The marathon is a traveling party, really, where people come to find closure to months of hard work, encourage others, and simply finish what they started.

I've driven the route of my scheduled marathon many times. I'm training mentally and physically for miles 6-8 and 20-26.2. I know the course. I know when I will hurt, and when I will be tempted to walk, when I will want to cry. I know when I'll remember to pray, quiet my mind, and really listen. I hope to accomplish a time goal at this race. I hope to qualify for Boston, or, at the very least break 4 hours. I hope that real focus, for the first time, will pay off. I hope at the finish line, I will find something I've been looking for, for over a decade.

And then what? Then begins a new chapter and decade of running in my life, and I'll likely find the very same gift of peace and clarity then as I do now. The steady stepping will carry me through seasons of packed snow, muddy puddles, hot roads, crunchy leaves. I'll hear in my mind, hymns to the beat of the run, answers to prayers, and sometimes nothing at all. Dusty trails, paved roads, and even the treadmill will continue to yield a brighter life experience in general if I am willing to always take one more step. It doesn't have to be fast or strong. Just one more step.

My happy time today? Remembering the blessings that come through effort in general.
My sad time? Remembering that the greater the blessing, the greater the required effort.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Progress on #38!!!

Nowhere near finished, but I am making significant strides in one of this year's goals. #38 on my "Bucket List." Just for fun, I thought I'd share some of the things I've done in regard to organization in my home. I have no brilliant ideas, nothing new or fancy, and certainly nothing that costs much in the way of money. But some tried and true tricks that are working wonders in our home.

Project #1: My shower. I invested in a shower caddy to keep everything organized and to make it easier to do a quick wipe-down after use. Words can not express my love for this. I wish I had more thumbs to give it, but for now, it's two thumbs up. You can get it at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Project #2: The garage. Space above the car has been put to good use, with an overhead hanging rack. We store items there that we use less often, but use more than we would like to go to the basement or attic. We actually have space for more, and are considering purchasing another. Well worth it, and can be found at Home Depot.

Project #3: Kitchen cupboards. I do not like cluttered messes of lids. I use this dish rack above my ovens on one side of the pots cupboard, to keep lids easily accessible and somewhat organized. Obviously, right now many of my lids are in the dishwasher.

Also in the kitchen, I use plastic cereal containers both for freshness as well as organization. It seems to me that random cereal boxes when left in their original box, end up getting spilt, smashed, and somehow lost in the pantry. Using containers seems to demand order and consistency when they are returned. Not to mention, the cereal stays fresher.

Project #4: Medicine cabinet. Ours was a very unorganized, disaster of a collection of old, expired meds mixed with this and that. Once I cleaned things out, I put in a "lazy susan" to store things used more often so we can easily spin through and find it when we need it. Extra space in the cupboard stores other first-aid and emergency equipment like flashlights, skin care, etc...

Project #5: Entry. First, I started with the coat closet. It was awful. After I gutted it, I simply added 3 baskets on the shelf above the coats for running items I like to grab quickly on my way out, winter hats and mittens, and misc. items. I also added a couple of organizing cubbies below the coats which are stacked on the floor for winter boots, snow pants, etc.

We brought a small dresser into the entry which has great drawer space for misc. items to be stored. I use these drawers for Benny's arts and crafts, puzzles, and other materials, but others might use space like this for purses, keys, or whatever.

Project #6: Clutter. Benny has a lot of toys that ALWAYS end up in the family room. Sometimes I need a quick place to stash them when people come over, if I don't have time to be running up and down the stairs to put them away. We had a chest that was once just for decorative use, but now it's filled with these migrating toys. I really like to keep it in front of the fireplace, but, during the winter WE are usually in front of the fireplace. Now we tuck it away behind the chair, and it doesn't cost us any more space. Benny even helps "cleannup" now, he likes to latch the lock.

Project #7: More clutter. We don't really have a great room for toys, so Benny's room is really his only playroom (except for when he brings his toys downstairs...). I had to figure out two things here. One, was how to make good use of the corner in his room where the roof cuts off a sizable chunk of standing space. Obviously, I chose to put two end tables side by side. This is his puzzle and "quiet corner" now.

The second issue? How to organize the books and toys. A simple solution was found at the grocery store. Baskets for toys, organized by type, and books left out. Benny knows which baskets are for which toys, and where on the shelf each basket belongs. I really believe that even at just 2 years old, people prefer structure and organization when given the option.

Project #8: The laundry room. Dreaded place, once, as it was too small to do what needed to be done in there. And while it hasn't grown any, I can work better with the washer and dryer stacked. Also, there is a place to keep the ironing board out at all times for a quick press if needed. I store a divided hamper in there for towels, sheets, and dishrags. The hamper is easily wheeled out if I need to iron, and nicely tucked in when I don't.

Project #9: Pictures. I have never been a real fan of the collage frame until recently. Michaels has (and often at 60% off), collage frames like none other. They are beautiful, in my opinion, and allow me to display the moments I never want to forget. Below are a couple examples, and a close up so you can see how each picture isn't just matted within the frame, it is framed within the frame!

Project #10: Toddler proofing. I love having a little one around, but sometimes I just have to draw the line of when and where it's okay to go (aka make messes)! Hence, the slide-locks on the doors to places like the pantry, laundry room, DVD closet, etc... So far so good, he hasn't bothered to go to the effort of pulling up a chair to unlock.

Also, Benny uses the "public" bathroom downstairs. I picked up this stool for his hand-washing. He can move it around on his own, it goes with the room, and most importantly, it has a cubby! The top step lifts and underneath is a nice little place for misc. bathroom necessities. I love secret hiding places for random storage!

Last but not least, I tucked shampoos, soaps, razors, and other dangerous things of interest to a toddler into a basket and store them under the sink behind a latched door. While I was at it, I painted the walls and made some curtains. My bathroom has a whole new look now. It was fun to do a quick and rewarding facelift on the bathroom, after lots of organizational work!

I still have a looooong way to go before I'm done, but I am pleased with the progress so far, to organize my home better. I can honestly say, that things appear to be STAYING organized as well. When the family can clearly see where things belong, they make an effort to keep it orderly. I should have done this years ago! I feel addicted, however, and am not sure I'll ever want to stop sorting, dumping, cleaning, painting, filing, labeling, preparing, mending...

"Organize yourselves, prepare every needful thing"

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Reality Check

Today Tori's school, Maeser, held their annual "Winterfest." For three weeks in January each student gets to choose a subject to study full-time and then ultimately display their works at this event. Tori chose "Meditation and Photography" and created an incredibly beautiful and meaningful picture book that included some insightful thoughts on reality that were truly calming to me. I so appreciated her message.

Tori is right. Reality is often over-looked as we shoot for the picture perfect life, and work for greatness in this way or that. But perfection does not have to come all at once. We are all different, and it would do us good to stop and appreciate the different stages of life we are each in, share the valuable experiences we have had, and take in the deeper insights others may have to offer us. I must admit, generally speaking I'd like to portray mine as a cartoon-ized, song-filled, Disney-ish life. But the truth is, those bold colors and perfectly outlined images are often muted with feelings, emotions, and even pains of reality that life yields. My life-scene, though not always balanced with bouncy, bubbly music and perfectly genius conversation, is real and wonderful things are coming from it.

This makes me think of when I was a little girl and my Mom would tuck me into bed with two questions. "What was your happy time today?" and "What was your sad time?" I never liked the second question. I would have liked to have hidden everyone's sadness and heartaches and go on believing we all lived in some kind of Disneyland where every day had a happy ending. Overly sensitive, I was (and am)... but there is wisdom and power in acknowledging reality and accepting it. I believe that deep within the quiet and still spaces of our hearts and minds, grow the strong and very real roots of character, strength, power, love, selflessness, and peace.

So... my happy time for today? This gentle reminder. And some dreaming of future happy days with Dania ;o) And my sad time? The realization that I have not always welcomed the opportunity to exist and accept myself and/or others in the "now" and instead have spent an awful lot of time pushing toward goals--some meaningful, some meaningless. Wasted time. Thank goodness for the blessing of a new day ahead, bearing more moments to "be" in, and experience with the amazing people in my life.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


While playing hide and seek again with Benny this morning I wished I could freeze time. Looking into his excited eyes when mine met his, I remembered the moments like this, savored with the girls when they were small-- now they are dreaming of building memories with children of their own. The motivation to keep timeless experiences more, and rush less grows inside of me the older I get. Look deeper, connect longer, create beauty, know peace, love others... something whispers.

Goal oriented? Yes I am, but not so much that I'll forget the "now" in my days. I found this posted on facebook today, a great reminder of how to create a life with no regrets... enjoying the smallest and most meaningful gifts in life. Enjoy.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Having it all together

I saw an adorable wall hanging today at the grocery store. "Family--we may not have it all together, but together we have it all!" Some days are better than others, for sure. There are days when juggling two high school schedules, two careers, and a two year-old can be complicated and I may not always feel in complete control of my surroundings.

BUT, at the end of the day when one by one each of the family members come home, and things to-do are checked, and concerts and meets and events have been attended, and bedtime routines have begun, and the lights are low, and the prayers are said, and the songs begin... I remember. My dream life of being a mom is real. It's really now it's really here and I really love it. Since I was a kid, I dreamed of the day I would get to bring children into my world, and in turn be an active part of theirs.

I love my one-on-one time with each of the kids, and of course Dave. Dave and I drive a lot. What better place than Utah for incredible scenery that NEVER gets old (if only WE would never get old!) I walk with Dania often, our typical route goes from home, around the temple, and back. A little over 6 miles. Amazingly heartfelt and unforgettable moments have come on this loop. Tori and I enjoy movies or nature in various forms. We really like to hike or jog trails together. We don't have to talk too much, but I cherish the quiet moments my heart feels close to hers. As is appropriate for this age, Benny and I play the 2 year-old version of Hide and Seek. I love his squeal and total thrill when our eyes meet around the corner.

So while our lives may seem to go in all directions during the day, and we may not have it "all-together" all the time, it is indeed true that when we are together, we have it all.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A New Start, and An Old Promise.

New starts at the New Year, and old promises... this is such a great season. Everyone needs a chance to choose to change in some way, start fresh, and at the same time remember the one thing that will never change: the love our Father in Heaven has for us and the encouragement He offers as we set out to do the best we can in our pursuits. What a blessing we have in His promise to always be with us. I will rely on His consistency and strength this year, just as I have every year.

Specifically, as I set out to complete numbers 1, 38, and 39 on my "Bucket List" (see tab on side if you're curious). This will take a little bravery as well as planning, patience, late nights, and early mornings when the house is quiet. But I really want to complete all three of these items this year. After all, it's just as has been said before, we regret most, that which we didn't do...

So here I go, best foot forward. Updates on my progress are sure to follow!